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Fam Pract. 2000 Aug;17 Suppl 2:S21-6.

The use of consensus to develop guidelines for the management of Helicobacter pylori infection in primary care. European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology.

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  • 1Centre for Primary Health Care Studies, University of Sunderland, Benedict Building, St George's Way, Sunderland SR2 7BW, UK.



Guidelines are an increasingly important feature of clinical practice and have proliferated over the past decade. When the evidence base for effective practice is limited, guidelines have to derive from the opinions and experience of those with knowledge of the subject. The manner in which a group synthesizes its individual opinions, the consensus process, is central to the validity and applicability of the resulting recommendations. This paper considers the theoretical issues in consensus development and describes the consensus process used in developing the European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology guidelines for the management of Helicobacter pylori in primary care.


A consensus development conference of 48 GPs from nine European countries used case scenarios to define clinical management strategies in dyspepsia and H.pylori infection. Structured data collection from this meeting allowed a quantitative measure of the extent of consensus to be produced.


Specific recommendations were produced for 15 decision points relevant to the management of H.pylori infection in primary care.


Consensus development is often utilized in the production of guidelines for clinical practice. Guideline appraisal instruments fail to examine in depth the methods used for this important part of the development process. We describe an approach to consensus development which contains a simple measure of the strength of consensus underlying each recommendation.

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